Asbestos is a natural fibrous material which is known to cause serious illnesses, including lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis.
The management and removal of asbestos contamination from buildings is well understood and has been controlled by UK legislation and best practice guidance for many years. Under the Control of Asbestos Regulations (CAR) 2012, all public buildings and non-domestic properties are required to have a register of the asbestos contained within the buildings to manage it.
The protection of workers and the general public from exposure to asbestos from work activities is also regulated by the Control of Asbestos Regulations (CAR) 2012. Among other things this requires employers (and clients) to ensure exposures are prevented or minimised through the use of appropriate risk assessments and the adoption of appropriate control measures. This legislation applies to any work commissioned in relation to asbestos containing materials, including site investigation and remediation works. Additional requirements are also imposed by other legislation such as the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM).
However, the understanding and significance from the occurrence and associated risks of asbestos containing materials in soils and made ground can be less understood by clients and may sometimes be missed at the early stages of development. Discovery of asbestos in the ground during development can then leading to significant construction delays and additional costs.
Asbestos containing materials (ACM’s) were widely used in the UK as a construction until the 1980’s.
Typical Sources of Asbestos in Soil
Typical sources of asbestos in soil on a site include:
- Historical sub-standard removal of asbestos prior to demolition of buildings resulting in asbestos containing materials potentially being present in the soil of made ground at any brownfield site.
- Below ground asbestos lagged pipes and ducts not removed or sub-standard removal during the demolition of buildings.
- Illegally buried waste materials
- Poor waste managements as part of historical manufacturing processes
- Import of demolition rubble as a construction material
Asbestos containing materials are quite often encountered with made ground soils and beneath concrete slabs (sometimes adhering to the underside of the concrete), particularly on older industrial sites or hospital sites.
Made ground soils and demolition rubble is liable to contain asbestos containing materials, either intact, broken up or mixed with other materials and may also contain free fibres. Fragments of asbestos containing materials may be difficult to visually detect, whereas free fibres in made ground and soils are generally not visible.
Asbestos Contaminated Land Investigation and Remediation
A tiered approach is adopted for risk assessment. The potential for asbestos contamination within the soils on a site is considered within the preliminary conceptual model and risk assessment as part of the Phase 1 desk study and reconnaissance survey.
Southern Testing have considerable experience in the investigation of soils within brownfield sites to locate the presence and extent of Asbestos containing materials and allow the design of safe investigation, remediation and verification works to obtain regulatory approval as part of redevelopment.
We regularly provide asbestos related assessment and risk management advice to our Clients as part of our standard contaminated land investigation service.
Having characterised the asbestos containing materials (asbestos type, condition, state, distribution, concentration in soils, soil type, soil moisture etc.) through phased site investigation and risk assessment, our contaminated land teams have the experience, and technical knowledge to design remediation solutions which address all relevant pollutant linkages and fits with the proposed land use. We will carry out extensive consultation with the regulators in order to provide the client with a sustainable, cost effective and durable solution. We have experience in providing schemes that meet design and construction needs, gain community and stakeholder acceptance and can be completed within commercially driven time frames.
Our environmental experts have significant experience of asbestos contaminated land investigation and have also attained accreditation from the British Occupational Hygiene Society P402 Building Surveying and Bulk Sampling, and P405 Management of Asbestos in buildings and undertake Asbestos Surveys, in accordance with the Health & Safety Executive publication HSG264 and undertake annual refresher training as required by CAR (2012). As a minimum standard all of our site operatives have received Asbestos Awareness Training tailored to contaminated land investigation.